ask Alex about
Food • Culture • Activities • Outdoors • history
a bit about Alex
What do you do and why do you do it?
I am a freelance journalist and travel writer. I consider myself blessed since I can live off my interests - travel, history and meeting interesting people. It's tough (financially) but immensely rewarding for someone who feeds off their curiosity, as I do.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had and why was it so effing bad?
I trained as a lawyer before the Athens bar and hated every moment of it. I couldn't take the superficial formality in the atmosphere, the vulgarity of new-rich clients, the conventionality of the people I met, the unreasonably long hours - after all, everyone admitted one cannot be productive for twelve consecutive hours shut in an office...
Were you born and raised in Athens? If not, where did you grow up and what brought you to Athens?
I am very much a child of Athens, born and raised... I spent 12 years living in Istanbul and returned to my base in 2015.
What’s your current hood in Athens and what’s the best/worst thing about it?
I live in Koukaki, right below Filopappou Hill, and love it! My flat is 350m from the pedestrian street in front of the Acropolis and 15 minutes walk from the centre of town - I walk everywhere and hardly ever use public transport. My street is very, very quiet, a remnant of interbellum Athens filled with neoclassic and art deco houses. a A few metres below hides the havoc of the area's exuberant pedestrian streets and their teeming cafes. The most annoying thing in the area (which has gained immensely in popularity over the last decade) are hipsters - you know what I mean...
What kind of music do you listen to and what kind of music do you absolutely HATE?
My tastes are very eclectic. I am as much an aficionado of opera as I am of old Argentinian (and Romanian!) tangos, of fados, jazz, "oldies", 80s pop (much better than the fashion) and occasionally rock. I absolutely detest most folk tunes of the Balkans and Asia Minor, rap and the rather down-market Greek genre described here as "dog songs". There, I said it!
Name the best TV shows of all time, and what makes them so good?
I haven't watched TV for over a decade, and was never a great fan...
Which public figure would you want to see “roasted”? (every public figure is fair game).
Recep Tayyip Erdogan - in paprika seasoning, Bibi Netanyahu - with blue cheese sauce, and Theresa May - dry, as she has always been. I think Trump will be the one to undo himself though...
Who’s your hero and where in Athens would you take them out for a serious hang?
Ι need a hero. Desperately.
Where do you buy those fabulous clothes of yours?
Airport duty frees. After all, I spend so much time in airports!
What’s the area/ spot in town you’ll never be caught dead in?
"West of the River" (Peristeri, Petroupoli, etc) - it epitomises everything I am not - or in the new-rich, indifferent northern suburbs. Also, a mall. Thankfully there are so few in Athens!
What’s the thing you LOVE to do in your city that you never get to do?
I love the beaches - but the fact that I have no car and I work pretty much every day (when not travelling abroad) means I haven't "properly" hit the beach here for ages...
Where do you go in Athens for a casual night out?
Downtown - the centre (from Syntagma to Athenas St), Monastiraki, Plaka or my neighbourhood are my turf. Sometimes Petralona.
Where would you go in Athens to celebrate some freaking good news?
I love savouring new dishes. I would return to one of my favourite restaurants serving Greek cuisine with a new twist and innovative recipes or regional dishes, such as A little Taste of Home and Aleria.
What’s your choice of transportation in Athens and why?
My feet. I enjoy walking and I enjoy the centre, and rarely go much beyond. If I really have to go further, it really depends - metro, bus or taxi. Mind you, I don't drive. Thankfully, taxis are cheap here.
What are the Athens spots a first-time visitor can’t miss?
The Areopagus rock by the Acropolis, with its gorgeous city views; the pedestrian promenade from the Acropolis Museum to Theseion; the Vouliagmeni suburb and its beaches; the views from Lycabettus hill; the cafes and bars in Kolokotroni and Praxitelous Sts downtown; the amazing collection of Art Deco and Bauhaus buildings in Kolonaki and Exarcheia, an open-air museum of interbellum architecture; the "alternative" and occasionally extreme Exarcheia scene; in summertime, an open-air cinema like Theseion; the quiet neighbourhood life in the alleys of Mets, on and around Archimidous St, and a street market ("Laiki").
What are the Athens spots tourists should run from screaming?
Any shop selling the disgusting standard fare of cheap museum reproductions and folk memorabilia. If you bomb it instead of running away, even better.
Tomorrow’s your last day in Athens. How do you spend it?
Morning at the beach in Vouliagmeni, early evening up on the Areopagus, dinner with friends in a favourite restaurant and closure at a bar, both downtown...
What’s your favorite vacation city in the world and why?
There isn't one only - I enjoy city holidays too much! I'd say Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Lisbon, Madrid, Marseille, Barcelona, Istanbul, Tel Aviv, Cairo and Cape Town are my favourites, but I may have forgotten a couple...